If a storm blows a tree over onto a power line or an errant construction crew breaks a water main, it will be obvious that what you are being deprived of is an essential service. For years now, the same has been true when your internet service provider suffers an outage and you find yourself booted out of the cyber realm.

Federal law, however, has been slow to see things the same way. But now, with the signing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, high-speed internet access is officially an essential service.

The law’s US$65 billion investment in expanding broadband access has received most of the headlines, but USC Annenberg’s Hernán Galperin explains why “internet-as-essential-service” is at least as significant as the funding. Galperin also spells out what the new law means for closing the digital divide in low-income, minority and rural communities.

Also today:

Eric Smalley

Science + Technology Editor

Closing the digital divide requires deploying a lot of fiber-optic cables in rural and low-income areas. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Infrastructure law: High-speed internet is as essential as water and electricity

Hernán Galperin, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act designates broadband internet access as an essential service and targets billions of dollars to close the digital divide.

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